Monday, December 10, 2018

Have a Beatles Christmas!

Between 1962 and 1970, the Beatles recorded one musical masterwork after another, with 27 No. 1 hits in the United States and the United Kingdomand 11 British LPs (plus the Magical Mystery Tour EP – 11 American Capitol releases). Yet for today's listener, the Fab Four's annual Christmas offerings are all but forgotten. The band's Christmas records were originally conceived as a means for providing holiday greetings to their legions of loyal fans through the Beatles' Fan Club. Beginning in December 1963, British fan club members received annual Christmas messages as free "flexi-disc" record releases. For the inaugural release, the Beatles sang the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas" and the comic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Ringo." American releases, for whatever reason, were usually released in January of the following year. While their British counterparts were given “flexi-disc” records, American fans received cardboard record releases in the mail. Over the years, The Beatles released such titles as “Did You Wash Your Father’s Shirt?” and a bevy of holiday faves. 

For Fan Clubbers and Beatlemaniacs, the band's 1967 Christmas record exists as a watershed moment in the Fab Four's brief history of holiday messages. For the recording, the Beatles concocted a six-minute narrative in which various groups audition for a BBC radio show, with the catchy "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)" serving as the track's periodic refrain. During the comic narrative, the four Beatles’ voice various characters ranging from game-show contestants and musicians (the Ravellers) to actors in a fictive radio program titled "Theatre Hour." For the Beatles, "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)" would emerge as their most recognizable holiday tune.